Talking To Yourself While You Work Can Boost Your Cognitive Ability

Talking to Yourself While You Work Can Boost Your Cognitive Ability

Whether it's finishing a report or searching for lost keys, if you want to get through a task, focus is everything. Distractions are everywhere, and they can really slow you down. If you find yourself lagging through something because you're distracted, try talking yourself through the process out loud.

Photo by FaceMePLS.

In a study published in the Quarterly Journal for Experimental Psychology, researchers split subjects into two groups. Half were asked to look at pictures of various objects and find the banana. The other half were asked to do the same thing, but they were also instructed to say out loud what they were looking for. Researchers reported that the group who talked out loud found the banana slightly faster. They concluded:

...verbal labels can change ongoing perceptual processing — for example, actually hearing "chair" compared to simply thinking about a chair can temporarily make the visual system a better "chair detector". Participants searched for common objects, while being sometimes asked to speak the target's name aloud. Speaking facilitated search, particularly when there was a strong association between the name and the visual target.

While the experiment worked specifically with searching for objects, you can also give it try with any other task that requires cognition. Of course, when talking to yourself, it should be about the process and task at hand. In the study, researchers added that when there was too much of a discrepancy between speech and the subject, speaking actually impaired performance. LiveScience reports:

Talking to yourself might not mean you are crazy — it can actually benefit thinking and perception, researchers say. Although such muttering might seem irrational, past research has shown that self-directed speech can help guide children's behaviour, with kids often taking themselves step-by-step through tasks such as tying their shoelaces, as if reminding themselves to focus on the job at hand..."The general take-home point is that language is not just a system of communication, but I'm arguing it can augment perception, augment thinking," Lupyan told LiveScience.

They go into more detail about how talking can help boost cognition. Check out the study and the full post at the link below.

Self-directed speech affects visual search performance [The Quarterly Journal for Experimental Psychology via LiveScience.]


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